The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Vocal student garners local thespian attention

He’s ahead of the game­: 20-year-old, junior vocal performance major, Max Swarner, is already making a splash in the Dallas theater world.

Swarner has a background steeped in musical theater, and he credits attending “Phantom of the Opera” when he was six with getting him into it.

A native of Dallas, he’s been performing in the area since he was a kid, playing roles in local productions of musicals including “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Sweeney Todd.”

“‘Equus’ at Upstart Players was really my first straight play,” Swarner said. “I had never done anything like that in my life, and it was quite an experience.”

 “Equus” is Peter Shaffer’s controversial play that garnered a lot of attention when Daniel Radcliffe starred in it in 2007.

Swarner, like Radcliffe, played Alan Strang, the boy who struggles with his perception of horses.

“You don’t know how many comparisons were made between me and Radcliffe,” Swarner said. “It got really annoying.”

Fresh off of his performance of Strang, Swarner was asked to be one of the puppeteers in director and designer Bruce Coleman’s pet project “Tales from Mount Olympus.”

“After we worked together on ‘Equus,’ Bruce wanted to work together again,” Swarner said. “Both projects have been new genres for me, and I’ve learned a great deal.”

“Tales from Mount Olympus” is unlike any other show in Dallas. Coleman describes the show as “an international experience.”

After all, it’s part Japanese Bunraku, part Hungarian black light theater and a whole lot of American storytelling.

Swarner and seven other actors guide the Greek gods and goddesses around the stage as a voiceover tells the story they are acting out.

Coleman has been working on this project for years and has spent the last several months slaving over the puppets themselves.

He credits a preoccupation with D’Aulaires’ “Book of Greek Myths” from childhood as the driving factor behind the show.

The intricate details of each puppet, from Andromeda to Medusa to the big face of Zeus, are a testament to Coleman’s hard work.

The colorful puppets and fun stories make this production an interesting show for everyone.

“He’s billing it as a family show, but it’s really for people of all ages,” Swarner said. “Greek mythology is something that has been fascinating people for years.”

See Swarner in Theatre Three’s production of “Tales from Mount Olympus,” which runs through Sunday, Nov. 28, and keep your eye open for your fellow SMU student in many productions to follow.

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